The Teacup Chronicles

Month: November, 2009

Online Cooking Inspiration

Whether you are an avid cook  looking for some new inspiration, or a novice just stepping into the kitchen for the first time, having quick and easy access to inspiring recipes is a necessity. While I will never let go of the bliss of pulling a cookbook off the shelf, plopping down at the table and fingering through the dog-eared, food-splattered pages, I have begun to explore the online frontier of  foodie resources with the hope of perhaps quenching my insatiable appetite for new material (and perhaps easing my cookbook addiction a bit – I’m running out of room!). Maybe the internet isn’t quite as intimate as a well worn book, but it does have some wonderful stuff popping up. So in the name of easy accessibility and things that are free, I wanted to share some of my favorite internet recipe resources with you, and encourage everyone to put on your apron and get into the kitchen. There is no better way to participate in your own well-being than to actively engage in the preparation of your own food. It is an inspiring, creative and even spiritual endeavor that will only leave you healthier and happier (amount of time spent in the kitchen is inversely related to obesity, research has shown). As my good friend Lori says, cooking is the best act of self love there is!

So here are my favorite links, do check them out and see where your fancy takes you:

Recipes from Jamie Oliver : The recipe data-base of celebrity chef Jamie Oliver. While he might seem a little cheesy, his mission to make cooking doable and accessible for everyone makes his lesser qualities tolerable. The website provides a wide variety of excellent recipes that utilize whole foods and emphasize seasonality. He has also been instrumental in banning junk food from school lunches in the UK!

101cookbooks.com: The recipe journal of photographer and cookbookaholic Heidi Swanson. Recipes are vegetarian, utilize whole food ingredients, and are accompanied by lovely pictures and charming commentary. She has won the Food Blog of the Year Award two times, and her coobook, Super Natural Cooking, has won the James Beard Foundation Award. You can also sign up to receive email alerts whenever she posts a new recipe.

Culinate: An e-magazine dedicated to “helping you eat to your ideal”, complete with articles, columns written by a variety of excellent slow-food chefs, cooking tips, food news, and simple, straightforward recipes featuring seasonal ingredients. Sign up and create a members page, where you can compile your favorite recipes and trade tips and recipes with other foodie minded people.

Body and Soul’s Eat Well Directory: The recipe database of Body and Soul magazine, dedicated to promoting nutritious and inspiring food ideas.  If you are a visually oriented person like me, you will love the delicious photographs that accompany the recipes. Most recipes are compiled by themes – seasonal foods, power foods, quick recipes, etc and are scattered with valuable articles ranging from buffering stress with food to building bones. Most recipes are accompanied with great nutritional information to pump you up about the health benefits of the foods you are preparing.

Chocolate and Zucchini: Food blog of Parisian  Clotilde Dusoulier, who, “shares her passion for all things food-related — thoughts, recipes, musings, cookbook acquisitions, quirky ingredients, nifty tools, restaurant experiences, ideas, and inspirations.” True to French cooking, there is an entire section dedicated to chocolate – but of course!

The River Cottage: Self described as a “website about food, where it comes from, and why that matters,” this is the website of a project that began as one man’s mission to grow and rear some of his own food that has since grown into a tremendous educational organization with classes, a television series and numerous books. The recipes are organized by season, but will soon be browse-able by ingredient. They are quintessentially and traditionally English – hedgerow jams, delicious custards, seafood and use the whole animal style cooking. These recipes are great for the wild-crafting enthusiast and those of you who have always wanted to know how to make Yorkshire pudding and Welsh rarebit.

Orangette: The blog of Molly Wizenburg, described by the UK Times as the “ultimate food lovers’ blog.” Recipes are delicious, inspiring and blend into the prose of her daily doings, adventures and pondering in a way that makes you feel the connection between spirit and food. Highly recommended.

So granted, that is only a tasting of all the great websites and blogs that are probably out there – but these are the ones I find myself visiting the most often. I subscribe to many of the blogs so that when I check my homepage, I see all the new recipe posts and remind myself daily about the creative adventures awaiting me in the kitchen. If you have your own favorites, please feel free to share them here – I’m always eager to expand my culinary horizons.

Happy Cooking!

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Spicy Parsnip Soup

Lately  I just haven’t had much time to get to my blog, working busily away at all my end of the year papers and projects, but after making this soup, I just had to share it. Every now and again, food has that magical ability to snap you back to life. One bite and it feels as if some spell cast over you has been broken, that after far too long of being somewhere else, you are finally back in yourself. So it was with this soup. Its the perfect thing for a cold and starry evening –  an elegant balance of creaminess, spice and sweetness to fill your belly with joy and content

Ingredients:

  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger root, roughly chopped –  or more to taste
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbl butter, coconut oil or olive oil
  • 4-5 medium sized parsnips, chopped
  • 1 tbl garam masala
  • 4 cups vegetable or meat stock
  • 1 cup raw cream, yogurt, creme fraiche, or coconut milk

Preparing the Soup:

I was busy working away at a paper for school, feeling the daze of too much computer time and the stress of deadlines. It was 3 oclock and well past lunchtime, and though I felt the urge to just keep working and ignore the pleading of my stomach, I knew I needed a break.  As much as I know about health, about nourishing myself and being present with my food, its all to easy for me to just grab an apple and munch away distractedly while typing away on the computer or running around the house. But in trying to practice what I preach, I decided to turn off the computer for a bit and focus on my food. I chopped up some onion, garlic and ginger  and threw them  into a hot pan lathered with coconut oil, smelled the delicious scent which never ceases to get my stomach gurgling and savored the sound of sizzling. Then I added the chopped parsnips, a generous helping of garam masala and covered it all with vegetable stock. I set the heat to high and while I waited for everything to come to a boil, dashed out to the garden for some salad greens and fresh parsley.  The soup was boiling away when I came back in from the bright November sunshine, and as I waited for everything to simmer and soften I threw together a salad with toasted hazelnuts, sliced pears and a sprinkle of goat cheese. Once the parsnips were tender, I added a dash of fresh cream and some salt and pepper, and blended the whole thing till smooth and creamy.  I ladled the hot, steaming soup into my bowl, sat down and took a bite. I had to close my eyes it was so good, so perfect in a way I could never had anticipated just a few ingredients thrown into a pot could be. I opened my eyes and felt like a different person. No more computer haze, no more stress. Just a happy, contented soul right there in the middle of a blissful moment.

So, the moral of the story is:

  • make this delicious soup and savor every bite
  • don’t forget to take the breaks you need to nourish yourself

Eating Processed foods Increases Risk of Depression

People often assume that eating a healthy diet sucks all the joy and fun out of life, but a study just published by the University College London shows that its actually the other way around.  Data taken from 3,500 middle aged men and women over a 5 year period showed that a diet high in processed foods (flour products, desserts, fried foods and conventional meat and dairy) increased the likelihood for depression by 58% compared to those who ate a predominantly whole foods diet.

Yet another compelling reason to eat real food…